January 2, 2013

Forrest Gump (1994)
Starring Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, and Robin Wright

Comments: Now this is a movie that I bet you weren't expecting to find on a list like this. I mean, come on, Forrest Gump won Best Picture in 1994. It was probably the single biggest movie of the year. There is no way on Earth that you can sit here and make an argument that a movie this big belongs on some sort of an underrated or underloved movie list.

In fact, I bet you are wondering where I am going to go with this.

To be honest, it isn't really even that hard to make an argument that Forrest Gump is underloved.  In the immortal words of John Lennon, "it's easy if you try."  After all, this is an argument that I have been making for years.  Because I do think it is underloved.  Forrest Gump might me the single most underloved movie of the past 20 years.  Which is amazing when you consider that, at one time, it was absolutely adored by everyone.

But nowadays?  

Yeah go up to a movie fan nowadays and ask them what they think about Forrest Gump.  See what they say.  Odds are it will be one of two things.  They will either say "F---! I'm still pissed that Pulp Fiction didn't win Best Picture that year!"  Or they will say "F---!  I'm still pissed that Shawshank Redemption didn't win Best Picture that year!"  Because that will forever be Forrest Gump's legacy.  It will go down in movie history as the movie that catered to old people, and because it catered to old people, it stole Best Picture from two obviously better and more modern choices.  And that is a shame.  Because Forrest Gump was a damn fine movie in its own right, and it is a shame that so few people seem to give it credit for that.

If you weren't around in the year 1994, or if you didn't follow movies very closely back then, here is a basic summary of what the world was like when it came to what your favorite movie was that year.

If you were young and you considered yourself edgy and hip, you loved Pulp Fiction.  You thought it was the most amazing movie you had ever seen in your life.  And you couldn't believe that something that edgy and cool actually got nominated for an Academy Award.  This was the one time in history that something young and edgy and cool actually had a chance to win Best Picture.  And you were very excited about that.

If you were one of the ten people who saw Shawshank Redemption in the theater, you thought "wow that was an amazing movie."  And you thought "I hope that random and obscure movie about a prison break wins Best Picture, because otherwise I am sure we will never hear about it again."

If you were a woman you thought, "Hey, Four Weddings and a Funeral was really neat.  I don't know if it will win best picture, but wasn't that Hugh Grant cute?"

If you were the parent of a small child you thought "Wow, the Lion King was amazing!  I sure hope these kids grow up so I don't always have to watch f---ing G-rated movies for the rest of my life."

And then everyone else in the world thought, "Wow, Forrest Gump was like the most amazing movie I have ever seen.  Thank goodness I am over 40 and I didn't have to watch that Pulp Fiction tomfoolery.  I want the movie that was about my generation to win Best Picture."

Yes obviously I am exaggerating a little, but this was definitely the case in 1994.  If you were young and hip you wanted Pulp Fiction to win.  If you were old and stodgy you wanted Forrest Gump to win.  And there was very little gray area in the middle.  It was one of the few times I can think of in my lifetime where the generation gap went right down the line, sans exception.  The 1994 Academy Awards were a battle for who was going to control Hollywood for a while.  Would it be the old predictable conservatives?  Or would it be the young chaotic liberals?  Would it be Forrest Gump or Pulp Fiction?  The values of the old or the values of the young?  Choose your side.

I am not kidding when I say that there were essays written about this subject.  What did it say about a person if he preferred Forrest Gump?  Did it mean that he agreed with the film's message that the conservatives (Forrest) will enter the Army and succeed in life, and that the drug using hippie liberals (Jenny) will perish?  What did that say about you if you ageed with that?

You think I am kidding about this but I'm not.  I was in college at the time and this topic was ALL OVER THE PLACE that summer.  If you were a college student, you were supposed to feel guilty if you enjoyed a movie like Forrest Gump.  You honestly were supposed to reject it in favor of the edginess and newness of a movie like Pulp Fiction.  In my 38 years of life I have never seen a time where there was that black and white a split over what type of a movie you were supposed to prefer.  And yes, I am sure that the fans of Forrest Gump were getting the exact same message and the exact same propaganda, but just from the other side.

Well, you know what happened, of course.  Forrest Gump won Best Picture.  The old guard in Hollywood won the game.

And for the next 10 years, all you heard from the other side was how Pulp Fiction was robbed.  How it was a travesty that a piece of shit like Forrest Gump could win Best Picture, and what that said about the state of movies in America.  And then when The Shawshank Redemption suddenly blew up and became famous, now everyone was talking about how Shawshank was robbed.  And for the next ten years after that, all you heard was how Shawshank was better.  And how it was a travesty that a piece of shit like Forrest Gump would win Best Picture, and what that said about the state of movies in America.

And meanwhile, I am sitting here for twenty years thinking, my God.  What a bunch of crybaby titty suckers.  Because Forrest Gump was an amazing movie too.  Yet all you have heard, for the past 18 years, all over the internet, is how Pulp Fiction and Shawshank were robbed, and how Forrest Gump is a piece of crap that was only interesting to old people.

And to that, I would like to say bullshit.

When I think of Forrest Gump, do you know what I think of?  I think of an event movie that was absolutely MASSIVE, and that practically everyone loved.  And that when you watch it, still holds up amazingly well and is a lot more engrossing and a lot more funny than you probably remember.  In fact I can probably think of ten solid laugh out loud comedy moments in the movie, and that's pretty good considering that Forrest Gump isn't even a comedy.

I also think of what an amazing soundtrack Forrest Gump had.  Seriously, watch the movie again, and listen to how many iconic songs it contains from the 60's and 70's.  That isn't just a soundtrack, that is practically the story of an entire generation.  There must be 50 massive awesome hit songs in this movie.  I can't think of a single soundtrack in movie history that can even come close to the Forrest Gump soundtrack.  It is just that amazing.

Obviously when you think of Forrest Gump you think of the actors (aside from Tom Hanks, this was one of Gary Sinise's first movies), but one thing that I think people tend to forget is that the special effects in the movie were incredble too.  In fact they weren't just incredible, the special effects in Forrest Gump were flat out revolutionary.  We are talking Terminator 2 levels of movie making wizardry here.  It is a shame that time has allowed so many people to forget about that.

In Forrest Gump we saw Forrest (Tom Hanks) interacting with famous historical figures.  No other movie had ever done that before.  And we saw it at least a dozen times.  Again, this was something THAT HAD NEVER REALLY BEEN DONE IN A MOVIE BEFORE.  Forrest Gump practically invented that technique.

Oh, and Lieutenant Dan's legs?  Well let me just say this.  My mother passed away in 2004.  And one of the things she always told me when we were talking about movies is that she was sure that Gary Sinise must have missing legs in real life.  In fact she was positive that in movies where he had appeared to have legs (like Of Mice and Men), they just digitized it to make it look that way.  Because she COULDN'T UNDERSTAND HOW THEY MADE HIS LEGS DISAPPEAR IN FORREST GUMP.  To her dying day, my mom never could figure out how they made his legs disappear in a movie.  And that is one of the amazing things about Forrest Gump that sadly has been forgotten over time.  Lt. Dan's missing legs were easily one of the most amazing special effects that had ever been seen in a movie up to that time.  Because remember, they couldn't just CGI his head over an amuptee body.  Not back in 1994 they couldn't.  That was all done with blue screens and acting and trickery.  And it is practically seamless even if you watch it today.

In fact, I will flat out say it.  Pulp Fiction and Shawshank Redemption didn't have anything as cool as the missing leg effects on Lieutenant Dan.

In summary, if you have never seen Forrest Gump before, see it.  It is a masterpiece.  And don't let any fans of Pulp Fiction or The Shawshank Redemption, or anybody in a film studies class in college tell you otherwise.  It is possible to like all three movies and to enjoy all three of them for what they are.  And no, Forrest Gump winning Best Picture didn't say anything bad about America.  If anything, it just said that voters still appreciated a memorable story, great acting, a killer soundtrack, and some of the best special effects that had ever been seen in Hollywood at that time.

I am pleased to add Forrest Gump to my list of movies that really need to get a little more love in the world.

And it won't be the only Best Picture winner on my list either, so get ready.

* My Favorite Forrest Gump Trivia from IMDB:
- Bill Murray, John Travolta and Chevy Chase turned down the role of Forrest Gump. Travolta later admitted that passing on the role was a mistake.

- Every still picture of Forrest during the movie shows Tom Hanks with his eyes closed.

-In the 1988 movie Punchline, Sally Field plays a love interest for Tom Hanks's character; in this movie, released six years later, she plays his character's mother.

* My favorite IMDB user reviews about Forrest Gump

Life's Lessons in one Movie
When I first saw this movie I didn't appreciate it like I do now. I think it may have been because I was so young when I first saw it. Just recently I saw the movie again. What an amazing story and moving meaning. That movie teaches you so much about life and the meaning of it. That life isn't as bad as most people make it seem. That an innocent man can impact so many lives with his innocence. The meaning of the movie to me is that everyone needs to have a better outlook on life. That we need to appreciate more of the little things and not let the big things hold us back. That truly although life may throw us trials and tribulations like a box of chocolates but that we have to just bite into it and get through it even if we don't like it. That we all need to hold true to our values and not sink into a place that feels like there's no hope... I just love this movie. And anyone who hasn't seen it or who thinks that don't like it I seriously suggest seeing it or seeing it again. It truly is amazing...

I don't know Tom Hanks and the likelihood is i will never meet him. However i would be very surprised if this film doesn't rate amongst his best/favourite/one to be proud of when he is talking to his grandchildren It is a timeless classic. i fully expect to be many a persons favourite film of all time. There is nothing about this film not to like, from the catchphrases, the audacious dips into world history and celebrity, its cheeky nods towards serious issues such as child abuse, racism, politics etc. The performances are superb, led from the front by Hanks. I think Bubba is hysterical, Sally field was an inspirational choice for the momma role, and lieutenant Dan nearly steals the show, and would have done if Hanks hadn't absolutely nailed it! The best thing though about this film is its appeal, you can watch it on DVD on a Monday but if you happened to find it on television in the same week you would watch it again, and yes you would still be saying the catchphrases at the end........My name is Forrest Gump, people call me Forrest Gump.

Quite possibly the best movie ever made

I've seen most of the top-voted 30 or 40 movies here at IMDb, and Forrest Gump probably wins my vote for the single best movie ever made.

This is not a conclusion I came to the first time I saw this film, or the second. The more you understand about this movie, the more you like it. And in terms of understanding it, my wife and I both were still gaining new understanding the 5th or 6th time we watched it. (For example: Why does Jenny behave exactly as she does throughout the movie? It'll take a lot of thinking to -fully- understand her.)

Just the fact that we've seen it at least half a dozen times says a lot. There are few movies that I ever even give a second viewing.

Like many of the truly good movies, there are people out there who see it once and consider it to be a waste of time. Such people are usually just looking for the most "action," gore and sex they can find, and haven't a clue about films that actually involve thought, ideas, and life.

Did I mention the script is absolutely brilliant? There are a lot of -truly- funny moments. And the music rocks. But those are only specific aspects of a movie that has just about everything else right about it as well.

See it, enjoy it, think about it, see it again. Think about it some more. Forrest Gump is one of the greatest movies -- if not THE greatest -- ever made.

* My Favorite Scene in Forrest Gump:
There are a ton of great scenes in Forrest Gump, and a ton of great quotes and historical references and moments.  But if I had to pick a favorite I will always go with Bubba obsessively reeling off every single way possible you can prepare shrimp.  Oh and for the record, here you go:

Bubba:  Anyway, like I was sayin', shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey's uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that's about it.

That... that's about it.

Forrest Gump at the IMDB

Forrest Gump at Wikipedia

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